German Photograph of Family of Roma, Marseilles, France, November 1942. Gift of Mrs. Patty Millett, from the Collection of The National WWII Museum, 2011.403.132.
FACTS ABOUT THE PORRAJMOS (Europe’s Roma) GENOCIDE
Romani (commonly but incorrectly called Gypsies) were considered by the Nazis to be social outcasts. Under the Weimar Republic--the German government from 1918 to 1933--anti-Romani laws became widespread. These laws required them to register with officials, prohibited them from traveling freely, and sent them to forced-labor camps. When the Nazis came to power, those laws remained in effect--and were expanded. Under the July 1933 sterilization law, many Romani were sterilized against their will.
In November 1933, the "Law Against Dangerous Habitual Criminals" was passed. Under this law, the police began arresting Romani along with others labeled "asocial." Beggars, vagrants, the homeless, and alcoholics were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
The Nuremberg racial laws of September 15, 1935, did not specifically mention Romani, but they were included along with Jews and "Negroes" as "racially distinctive" minorities with "alien blood." As such, their marriage to "Aryans" was prohibited. They were also deprived of their civil rights.
By the summer of 1938, large numbers of German and Austrian Romani were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. There they wore black triangular patches (the symbol for "asocials") or green patches (the symbol for professional criminals) and sometimes the letter "Z."
As was the case for the Jews, the outbreak of war in September 1939 radicalized the Nazi regime's policies towards the Romani. Their "resettlement to the East" and their mass murder closely parallel the systematic deportations and killings of the Jews. It is difficult to determine exactly how many Romani were murdered. The estimates range from 220,000 to 500,000.
Source: Dr. William L. Shulman, A State of Terror: Germany 1933-1939. Bayside, New York: Holocaust Resource Center and Archives.